Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Injury Prevention

  • When creating your Thanksgiving meal, take several sitting breaks. Your legs and back will need some rest during the hours of food preparation, cooking, and baking.
  • Be careful when bending to get dishes into and out of the oven. Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes can be quite heavy. Use your legs to lift versus your back. Pull dishes as close to your body as possible before attempting to lift. This will help save your back!
  • Split up the clean dishes into smaller piles before trying to lift them into kitchen cabinets. This will limit strain to your arms and shoulders versus trying to lift a large stack of plates.

Sit to Stand Exercise

Do you ever want to give your therapist a standing ovation, but are unable to? Well the sit to stand exercise is a good exercise to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and thighs to help with this activity. With improved strength comes improved balance and overall function. Here’s the proper way to perform the exercise:

1. Sit in middle or toward front of chair with your knees bent and feet flat on floor.

2. Slightly lean forward with your head and shoulders, while simultaneously lifting you buttocks from the chair. Use your hands as little as possible (or not at all, if you can)

3. Keep your back straight as you come up, so that you feel your abdominal/low back muscles do the work.

4. Slowly sit back down.

5. Keep back and shoulders straight throughout exercise.

6. Repeat. A good number to shoot for would be 5-10 repetitions.

The goal is to be able to increase your reps and require less use of hands as you become stronger.
Sit to Stand

The Importance of your Physical Therapy Home Exercise Program

Not performing your home exercises while undergoing physical therapy and even after discharge from physical therapy is comparable to taking only half of a prescribed antibiotic. You will not get the maximum outcomes from your physical therapy. The goal of the home exercise program is to re-condition the body, restore function, and reduce/manage symptoms.

Exercising at home helps to condition the body between physical therapy sessions. If a person relies only on physical therapy sessions and does not perform a home exercise program, the body will not build improved function or retain muscle memory between sessions.

Common reasons for not performing the prescribed exercises are decreased home exercises include pain with exercises, lack of motivation due to perceived lack of improvements, unhappiness from the loss of function caused by the problem, and just being plain busy. If you fall under any of the above categories, talk to your physical therapist so a practical and tailored exercise program can be developed and followed that match your lifestyle.

How To Tell If You Are Properly Hydrated

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day can cause dehydration. Being thirsty isn’t the best indicator of your need to hydrate, as it means you are already dehydrated. A good rule of thumb to tell if you are properly hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear urine means you’re well hydrated. Dark urine means drink more fluids. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Also, certain foods include a high percentage of water, such as fruits and vegetables.

Are you a fall risk?

Falls are the number one cause of accidental death in adults over 65 years of age. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to determine if you are a fall risk:

1. Have you fallen in the past 6 months?
2. Are you afraid of falling?
3. Do you feel the need to use your arms to rise from chairs or hold onto objects to maintain your balance?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it might indicate that you may be a fall risk. A quick screening test done by a physical therapist to determine if a patient is a fall risk is called the “Sit to Stand” test. It is used to categorize patients into high, moderate or low fall risk.
Here is the Sit to Stand test in a nutshell:

1. The patient is asked to sit in the middle of the chair with their feet flat on the floor and arms folded across their chest.
2. Come to a full stand and return to a complete sitting position.
3. Repeat as many times as they are able to in 30 seconds.

8 or less times in 30 seconds = High Risk
9 to 12 times in 30 seconds = Moderate Risk
13 or more times in 30 seconds = Low Risk

If you are in the moderate to high fall risk category, make an appointment with your local physical therapist to prevent future falls.


The three components of balance comprise of the visual system (SEE), proprioceptive system (FEEL), and the vestibular system (HEAR – located in the inner ear). The brain integrates and processes all the information from these 3 systems to help us maintain our balance or sense of equilibrium. When you start to have problems with your balance, one or more of the above systems might be affected. Let us examine each of these systems briefly.

SEE no EVIL – Visual system

Receptors in the retina are called rods and cones. When struck by light, the receptors send impulses to the brain that provide visual feedback on how a person is oriented relative to other objects. This is how we know when we are upright or lying sideways.

HEAR no EVIL – Vestibular system

The vestibular system in each ear is made up of the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect up, down, and side to side movements. The semicircular canals detect rotational movement. When the head rotates in the direction sensed by a particular canal, the receptors in that canal sends impulses to the brain about movement. When the vestibular organs on both sides of the head are functioning properly, they send symmetrical information to the brain.

FEEL no EVIL – Proprioceptive system

Proprioceptive sensory/mechanoreceptors from the skin, muscles, and joints are sensitive to stretch, pressure, and movements. With any movement of the body, the receptors respond by sending impulses to the brain which then interprets these movements. This is how even with your eyes closed you can tell if your elbow is straight or bent or which way your head is turned.

Defining Sciatica

Pain in the buttocks that radiates down the leg is referred to as sciatica. The most common cause of sciatica is irritation of the spinal nerves in or close to the spine. Sometimes the source of sciatic pain can be further down the leg in the buttocks. Before the sciatic nerve begins its path down the back of the leg, it runs under or through a deep pelvic muscle called the piriformis. When the piriformis squeezes or irritates the sciatic nerve, this can cause symptoms of sciatica. It has not been definitively proven why the piriformis sometimes starts to irritate the sciatic nerve. Most physicians feel it is from the muscle spasming and tightening to squeeze the sciatic nerve against the pelvic bone. It can also occur from a fall onto the buttocks that bruises the piriformis causing swelling and pressure against the sciatic nerve. As the muscle heals, scar tissue forms which is not as elastic as normal, healthy tissue. This can continue to put constant pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Tips on Staying Fit During the Winter

Winter weather is upon us! Even though temperatures are dropping, there are many options to continue exercising safely. If you spent the warmer months exercising outdoors, but continued making monthly membership ‘donations’ to your local fitness center, use this winter to redeem your money’s worth of classes and workouts! Gyms offer plenty of indoor cardio, conditioning, and strengthening exercise options. Most gyms also offer fitness classes if you like the group setting. If a gym membership is not your thing, there are also many exercise options online, TV on Demand, or on DVD. If you still plan to battle the elements and exercise outdoors through the winter months, be sure to make use of warm, protective clothing. Proper footwear, warm socks, hats, gloves, and layers are all important! Also, remember winter brings shorter hours of daylight so use reflective gear whenever necessary! Always remember safety first and consider alternatives to outdoor exercise when icy or extra cold outside!

What is a Trigger Point?

We have close to 400 muscles in the human body.  Muscles can develop trigger points which can refer pain and cause dysfunction. Symptoms can range from intolerable agonizing pain caused by “active” trigger points, to painless restriction of movement and distortion of posture from “latent” trigger points.

There is not conclusive research on the definition of a trigger point.  However, many characteristics have been observed for decades by researchers all over the world. There are many mechanisms by which we develop trigger points. Some of those mechanisms include poor posture, injury to a muscle, muscle overuse, and repetitive stress overload. Trigger points limit range-of-motion and cause muscle fatigue.

When pressed on, trigger points feel like “knots” or tight bands in the muscle, and are usually tender. Healthy muscles usually do not contain knots or tight bands and are not tender to pressure.

Good news!!! Physical Therapy diminishes trigger points. Physical Therapy addresses trigger points by identifying and treating the primary driver of the trigger point.  This is done through trigger point release, massage, and posture re-education.